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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS FeedAround the Field
It’s like a big tent city for the planeless
Story and photos by Jack Hodgson
Cameron Curley, of Houston Texas, in the wing-less North 40 campground.
William Runyon and Chris Toeppen in the wing-less North 40 campground.

One of the signature experiences each year at AirVenture is camping under the wing of your plane in the North 40 campground. This year the wet grounds have dramatically changed the nature, but not the result, of that experience.

Although many EAAers have pitched their tents in the North 40, almost none of them are under wings—’cause there are no airplanes there.

By this time in the fly-in week, the North 40 aircraft campground is usually wingtip-to-wingtip with airplanes. But this year it’s just a vast field of grass. Almost no airplanes have been allowed onto the grass; they’re all being directed to the scarce hard-surface parking.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t still camp in the North 40. Dozens of EAAers have unloaded their camping gear, transported it to their favorite spot in the North 40, and pitched camp—as usual, just without their wings.

For the AirVenture long-timer it’s a strange, unusual view—the North 40 with no planes but tents scattered across its vast expanse.

One AirVenture attendee who would not be denied is high school senior Cameron Curley and his dad, Jim. They’re from Houston, Texas, and Cameron’s kicked back in a folding camp chair, watching the action on Runway 9-27, while his dad is off doing errands.

Cameron’s only a few hours into his flight training—so far he’s logged time in a 172 and a friend’s Cirrus—but this is his third visit to the fly-in, the others being two years and five years ago. Dad’s been coming a lot longer.

Their plane, a twin, is parked at Orion, and they’re hoping to be able to move it over to the campsite in a few more days. Cameron and his dad fly out of Houston Southwest (AXH) in Houston.

William Runyon and Chris Toeppen had never met before pitching their tents beside one another in the wingless North 40. William is from Fort Worth Spinks Airport in Texas. He checked with the Basler FBO before heading to Oshkosh and learned that it had a parking space for his 1985 E model P-Baron. He then brought his camping gear to the North 40 and set up to enjoy the week. It’s William’s third time to the fly-in.

William flies the Baron the rest of the year mostly for pleasure. He recently transitioned into it from a Mooney. One of the things he likes about the bigger plane is that it’s pressurized.

“My wife’s not fond of using oxygen, so pressurized is better.”

Chris Toeppen, and his wife, Cheryl, come to AirVenture from Palo Alto, California. It’s his sixth time to the fly-in, her first. His first time was back in the late ’90s. One of the things he says he’s enjoying about this year is the new shower facility in the North 40 that, not coincidentally, is abeam the location he chose for his tent.

One of his plans for this year’s fly-in is to shop for some new gear for his Cessna P210. It’s the 1979 model, and he’s had it for 10 years. He flies it mostly for pleasure, but occasionally he uses it for business travel around the western United States.

The trip out to Oshkosh this year was uneventful. Although they encountered some weather on the route it didn’t really slow them down.

“We stayed low,” he explains, “and just stayed underneath it. My wife loves looking at the scenery. She’s from Minnesota originally, so she knows the area.”

Cameron, William, Chris, as well as everyone else we’ve talked with so far, agree that the conditions and special procedures this year are not having any bad effect on their enjoyment of the fly-in.

There are still plenty of chances to visit with new and old friends—and to check out the planes under the blue Wisconsin sky.

You can check out the Around the Field archives at www.AroundTheField.net.

FUTURE AIRVENTURE DATES: 2014: July 28-Aug. 3; 2015: July 20-26; 2016: July 25-31; 2017: July 24-30
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